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With Amendment E, Utahns can preserve their outdoor heritage

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Tommy Gibson and Jay Kellet look for deer.

Color Country Outfitters

Utah voters will have more at stake on Election Day than just voting for who will lead the country and the state for the next four years. Voters will have the chance to preserve Utah’s wild outdoors heritage in perpetuity.

On the ballot this year, Utahns will be asked to approve Amendment E, which is a proposal to preserve a constitutional right to hunt and fish. By voting yes on Amendment E, Utah voters will preserve the state’s wild outdoors heritage. This will ensure that generations to come will enjoy the same awe, respect and value of the natural and renewable resources we enjoy today. 

Protecting the right to hunt and fish is not a new concept. Twenty-one states already have constitutional amendments guaranteeing their residents the right to hunt and fish. Voters approved all but one through ballot initiatives. Pennsylvania’s constitution drafted in 1776 includes the right to “fowl and hunt in seasonable times … and … to fish.” Vermont did the same in 1777. 

More recently, other states recognized the need to protect what was once commonly understood — that hunting and fishing are rights for all citizens. Wildlife belongs to all the people, and the use of that wildlife as a food source belongs to all the people. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming all passed voter-approved amendments to their state constitutions. Alaska’s constitution preserves the right of common use for fish, wildlife and waters occurring in their natural state. Florida and New Hampshire have statutory protections for hunting and fishing. Utah should join this growing list of states and protect the right to hunt and fish.

Unfortunately, radical and well-funded anti-hunting groups are attacking our way of life. In nearby California, these special interest groups descend on Sacramento each year to chip away at the rights of citizens to access public lands and stock their freezers with plentiful wild game. New Jersey’s governor, acting at the request of anti-hunting groups, slashed access to state lands to deny bear hunting opportunities, even as state biologists warned that bears are overpopulated and in need of management by hunters.

That’s not Utah’s character and it doesn’t have to be Utah’s future. Utah is a desired destination for hunters and anglers across the nation because of the unspoiled wide-open spaces and teeming wildlife that thrives within it. The sale of hunting and fishing licenses, firearms, and fishing and archery tackle tops $2 billion annually. In 2019 alone, Utah’s firearm industry contributed nearly $13.5 million to support wildlife conservation programs ensuring healthy herds, birds, fish and fauna for all to enjoy today and for decades to come.

Voting to approve Amendment E, the constitutional right to hunt and fish in Utah, is critical to preserving Utah’s outdoor heritage.

Hunters and anglers are Utah’s greatest conservationists. Sportsmen and women who trek through the state’s mountains, fields and marshes understand and treasure the precious and abundant resources in the state. These hunters are stitched from the same cloth as the generations before them who forged the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation that invested hunters in the perpetuation and recovery of wild animals. These are the hunters who ensure that Utah maintains healthy herds of mule deer, pronghorn antelope, Rocky Mountain Elk, Shiras Moose and numerous other big game species. Ducks and geese traverse the state on their annual migrations, and the rivers and lakes teem with fish. This is a heritage worthy of protecting. It is worth protecting to ensure healthy wildlife in the state for future generations. 

Utah voters have a unique opportunity when they get their ballot this year. This question is no less important than the questions of state and national leadership. Voting to approve Amendment E, the constitutional right to hunt and fish in Utah, is critical to preserving Utah’s outdoor heritage. This is the chance for Utah to protect the rights of future generations to enjoy Utah’s natural resources and wildlife. 

Travis Hall is the chief executive officer of Browning Arms Company, headquartered in Morgan.